MIDWIVES have rapped the government after they were ordered to repay allowances following their movement from maternity wards to other departments.
Midwives in the Health and Child Care Ministry receive $177 allowances every three months from the Health Transition Fund (HTC), a move that is meant to motivate them and reduce maternal and newborn mortality in the country.
However, some of the midwives have been ordered to deposit the allowances that they received for the last quarter in their hospital accounts, after they were moved from maternity wards due to shortages of nurses.
The president of the Zimbabwe Confederation of Midwives (ZICOM), Lilian Dodzo, said the decision was demoralising.
“This movement from maternity wards has demotivated midwives who’ve been asked to pay back the allowances they received.
“This is an incorrect accounting principle that we’ll not accept as midwives. We want the minister to look into this matter because these midwives are still in the system and they didn’t ask to be moved. They were moved because of shortages of nurses in hospitals,” she said.
Dodzo said there was no guarantee that the money would be used for its intended purposes by the health institutions.
She appealed to the ministry for a separate midwifery establishment to reduce the movement of midwives from maternity wards to general wards, which creates unnecessary staff shortages.
Some of the affected nurses who declined to be named told Chronicle that they would not return the money because they were still in the system and it was not their choice to be moved from the maternity wards.
Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa acknowledged that there were irregularities in the handling of the HTF funds, adding that a committee had been set up to look into the issue.
“There are a lot of issues that have to be looked into to try and avoid skewed outputs in the health sector. These include the issue that has been raised by Dodzo.
“The Health Services Board (HSB) has put up a committee to investigate the issue of allowances for midwives as well as other issues,” said Dr Parirenyatwa.
He could not be drawn to reveal the number of affected midwives, saying the committee would compile a report.
Dr Parirenyatwa said the government has 16,000 nurses and was short of about 8,000 nurses.
“We need 8,000 more nurses for our urban and rural hospitals to function effectively,” he said.